Industry Watch

INDUSTRY WATCH

March 21, 2004|By From staff reports and Bloomberg News

Homebuyer seminar scheduled Thursday at Garwyn Oaks

Garwyn Oaks Housing Resource Center has scheduled a homebuying workshop for 6 p.m. Thursday at 2508 Garrison Blvd.

The workshop, sponsored by Garrison Boulevard United Neighbors Association Inc., will cover issues such as building and repairing credit, applying for a mortgage and the costs of homeownership.

The course is free and includes a one-on-one session with a counselor. Certificates presented upon completion of the course can be used in applying for housing grants and other incentive programs.

Information and registration: 410-542-9050.

Homebuilders' index of optimism steady at 64

An index of U.S. homebuilder optimism was unchanged this month at 64, matching the average of last year when builders sold a record number of homes.

Readings above 50 in the National Association of Home Builders' housing market index mean builders who view conditions as good outnumber those who view them as poor. The index has been above 60 since June.

A gauge of buyer traffic rose to 48 from 46 last month. The index's measure of current sales fell to 69 this month from 71 in February. The survey's measure of sales expectations dropped to 70 this month from 73.

The builders' sentiment index was based on a survey of 201 builders. In October, the index had reached 72, the highest since December 1999.

Housing starts slowed by weather last month

U.S. housing starts fell last month to their slowest pace since August as rain slowed construction in the South. Even at last month's rate, however, more homes would be built this year than in any year since 1978.

Construction fell 4 percent to a 1.86 million annual pace, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The fifth-wettest February on record contributed to a 1.6 percent drop in the South, where about half of the nation's new homes are built.

Demand for housing is expected to make this year the best ever for sales, aided by low mortgage rates, according to Fannie Mae, the largest U.S. mortgage financier.

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